Italian siblings arrested over alleged hacking of former PM, Vatican

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Italian siblings arrested over alleged hacking of former PM, Vatican

Police claim 18,000 high-profile email accounts targeted.

Italian police have arrested two siblings over the alleged theft of private information from prime ministers, Vatican cardinals, bank executives and other high profile targets, which prosecutors claim was used to conduct insider trading.

Giulio Occhionero, 45 and his sister, Francesca Occhionero, 48, are accused [pdf] of having conducted spearphishing attacks using malware to gain access to victims' email accounts.

The pair are said to have modified a strain of malware dubbed "Eye Pyramid", which acts as a keylogger and spyware to capture information, according to the police brief.

Police say they targeted over 18,000 usernames since 2012, but there are indications the malware campaign may have been running from as early as 2008. In total, just under 1800 passwords were allegedly captured by the Occhionero siblings, who exfiltrated around 87 gigabytes of data to servers in the United States.

The stolen data has been seized by Italian police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The suspected victims of the cyber espionage campaign include fomer Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi, who resigned in December last year after losing a constitutional reform referendum.

The Occhionero siblings are said to have broken into Renzi's email account twice in July last year. Police allege they also hacked into accounts belonging to Vatican Church cultural minister Gianfranco Ravasi, the European Central Bank head Mario Draghi and many more highly placed targets.

Italian police believe the siblings used the stolen confidential information to make investments through a firm operated by Mr Occhionero, a nuclear engineer by profession.

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